Tulsa County Voters To Decide On Tax To Improve Jails

Wednesday, January 29th 2014, 6:18 pm

Tulsa County voters will decide if tax money should go toward building a new juvenile detention center and jail improvements. County Commissioners made a unanimous decision Wednesday to put the two issues on an April ballot.

The juvenile detention center is more than 45 years old. County leaders said it's outdated and has outlived its usefulness.

1/13/2014 Related Story: Tulsa Officials Begin Push To Improve Juvenile Detention Center

The building not only serves as a facility for kids who get in trouble, but it's also the place where abused and neglected children are brought for care. And it's used for juvenile court and even adoptions.

But Commissioner Karen Keith said there's not nearly enough room for all of that and it's the children who are paying the price.

"We want to take these young people in here and see where their issues are using all these different agencies that come in and partner with us and turn their lives around and when they go back home they're on a better path and they don't end up in the jail or the state penitentiary," said Keith.

The sheriff said overcrowding at the jail is no better. Right now the jail is reportedly over capacity by at least 150.

"A lot of those are people that have a lot of mental problems. I have over 400 people on psychotropic drugs," said Sheriff Stanley Glanz.

County leaders hope voters will approve a 15-year renewal of a .067 percent sales tax to build a new juvenile center and to add on to the jail.

The money is currently going toward streets and expires at the end of July.

The proposal is split into two questions, one for the jail and the other for the juvenile facility. The vote is April first.